Chad le Clos returned to the top of the podium on Thursday, with the world record holder racing to a historic victory in the men’s 100m butterfly final at the World Short-Course Championships in Hangzhou.
Leading at the turn after an explosive start, Le Clos touched the wall in 48.50 seconds, finishing 0.21 clear of American silver medallist Caeleb Dressel.
The South African secured his fourth straight global 100m fly title in the 25-metre pool, and his 13th career medal at the biennial global championships.
He also kept the SA team’s medal count ticking over with their third podium place of the gala, as they climbed to fourth spot in the standings after Le Clos had bagged silver in the 200m butterfly and Cameron van der Burgh had secured gold in the 100m breaststroke earlier in the week.
Though breaststroke specialist Van der Burgh had announced his retirement after the 100m final, he was set to compete again in the 50m contest, while Le Clos was also expected to add further to the nation’s growing medal haul at the short-course spectacle.
Meanwhile, in other events on day three, teenager Erin Gallagher settled for eighth place in the women’s 100m freestyle final in 53.14.
While she was 0.44 outside the African record she set in the semifinals the night before, Gallagher clocked the third fastest time on the continental all-time list.
Dutch swimmer Ranomi Kromowidjojo won gold in 51.14.
Earlier, in the morning session, Gallagher had progressed through the 50m butterfly heats, but she was eliminated in the semifinals of the sprint event after taking 16th position overall in 26.17.
Olympic finalist Brad Tandy kept himself in the hunt for the podium, however, achieving the seventh fastest time in the men’s 50m freestyle semifinals (21.07) and booking his place in the medal battle to be held on Friday.